FOG WARNING: Why looking at data – lots of it – gives you a clearer picture


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When I was a kid my Dad would take us walking in the Lake District. We would set off with a rucksack, wellies and a mac.

Every now and then we’d be caught up a fell by mist that would bring visibility to almost nothing. It was an odd feeling to know that off the path was a sheer drop hidden by the clouds.

One time we were were caught out and were about to scramble down a tiny path worn not by climbers but by sheep and rabbits. The cloud broke for 10 seconds and Dad spotted we were heading into the wrong valley. Of course, he only told us about this much later. Being Cumbrian he didn’t do drama.

Every 12-months the Ofcom communications market report acts as a break of sunlight in the mist. We are busy working not knowing the world has changed and then the clouds break and a pile of useful data emerges. I’ve blogged about it here.

One thing struck me listening to the debate and discussion of the Ofcom stats.

Firstly, that looking at the data always, always surprises and leads to a moment of revelation. That figure of 80 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds having Facebook? Surprising, isn’t it?

But that’s not the complete picture.

Almost every public sector Facebook page I’ve ever looked at has had less than 5 per cent of members as a teenager.

Don’t just rely on one set of big picture figures.

Look at your own local data, too.

Where can you get it from?

You’ll get a clearer picture if you do.

Pic credit: Alex Holyoake / Flickr 






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